Walks in London, vol. I
Hare, Augustus J. C.
Chapter X: The Tower and its Surroundings.
Chapter X: The Tower and its Surroundings.
From the statue of William IV. at the foot of , Little East Cheap and lead to the . This is of the busiest parts of the City, movement is impeded, and all the side streets teem with bustle and traffic. At the end of is the Church of , which derives its surname from having been founded by the nuns of Barking Abbey before the reign of Richard I., who added a chantry in honour of the Virgin where the north chancel aisle now is. This chantry-
contained a famous image of the Virgin placed there by Edward I. in consequence of a vision before his father's death, in which she assured him that he should subdue Wales and Scotland, and that he would be always victorious, whilst he kept her chapel in repair. To the truth of this vision he swore before the Pope, and obtained an indulgence of days for all penitents worshipping here at her shrine. In the instrument which set this forth, prayer is especially asked for the soul of Richard I.,
: the lion-heart, however, is really in the museum at Rouen, having been exhumed from
|the cathedral, where it was deposited when the king's body was buried at Fontevrault.|
The church, which is chiefly Perpendicular, is entered on the south by a handsome modern Decorated door. The interior has all the charm which want of uniformity gives, and its old ironwork (observe the sword-rests of Lords- Mayor--the last of -over the Corporation Pew), its ancient monuments, and numerous associations give it a peculiar interest. Making the circuit of the church we may notice-
In the Churchyard of Allhallows was buried Humfery Monmouth, Alderman, the great benefactor of the early reformers, who harboured and helped Tyndale, was imprisoned for heresy by Sir Thomas More, and who
| bequeathed money for |
(Mr. Latimer, Dr. Barnes, Dr. Crome, and Mr. Taylor)
in the church where he was buried. From its nearness to the Tower, this church also became the burialplace of several of its victims. Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, the Cardinal of St. Vitalis who was never allowed to wear his hat, his grave being
was laid here (without his head, which was exposed on )
near the north door, in , but was afterwards moved that he might be near his friend Sir Thomas More in the Tower. Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (beheaded for quartering the arms of Edward the Confessor, though he had a license to do so from the Heralds' College),
[n.367.1] was also buried here in , but was moved to Framlingham in . Here still reposes Lord Thomas Grey (uncle of Lady Jane), beheaded in for taking part in the rebellion of Sir Thomas Wyatt, and his perhaps may be the headless skeleton lately found at the west end of the nave.[n.367.2] The sign of the (No. ), opposite this church, marks a house where Peter the Great, when in England, used to booze and smoke with his boon companions.
We now emerge on , a large plot of open ground, surrounded with irregular houses. In of these lived Lady Raleigh while her husband was imprisoned in the Tower. Where the garden of is now planted,
| a scaffold or gallows of timber was always erected for the execution of those who were delivered by writ out of the Tower to the sheriffs of London, there to be executed. Only the queens and a very few other persons have suffered within the walls of the Tower-almost all the great historical executions have taken place here on the open hill. Amongst others, this honoured spot has been stained with the blood of Bishop Fisher, ; Sir Thomas More, ; Cromwell, Earl of Essex, ; Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, ; Thomas, Lord Seymour of Sudeley, ; the Protector Somerset, ; John Dudley, Earl of Northumberland, ; Lord Guildford Dudley, ; Sir Thomas Wyatt, ; Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Strafford, ; Archbishop Laud, ; Algernon Sydney, ; the Duke of Monmouth, ; the Earl of Derwentwater and Lord Kenmuir, ; Lords Kilmarnock and Balmerino, ; and Simon, Lord Lovat, , the last person beheaded in England, who died expressing his astonishment that such vast multitudes should assemble |
Below , separated from it by a wide moat and ramparts now planted with gardens on the side of the town, is the immense pile of fortifications known as the . Though of the most ancient, and quite the most historical, of English fortresses, a great feeling of disappointment will be inevitably felt by those who see it for the time. Its picturesque points have to be carefully sought for. Its general aspect is poor, rrean, and uninteresting, a fault which is entirely owing to the
|feebleness of our later English architects--to the same utter ignorance of the honour due to light and shadow-and the same sacrifice of general outline to finish, which has ruined Windsor Castle. Here, where an Italian would have used enormous blocks of stone, perfect rocks heaped upon another, all work of rebuilding or restoration has been done with small stones neatly cut and fitted together like bricks, producing an impression of durable piteousness, which it requires all the romance of history to counteract.|
A tradition which ascribes the building of the Tower to Julius Caesar has been greatly assisted by Gray through the lines in the Bard-
But no existing buildings are of earlier date than the or Keep which was built by William the Conqueror in . Gundulph, Bishop of Rochester, the builder of Rochester Castle, was overseer of the work. He was surnamed
The Tower was much enlarged by William Rufus, of whom Henry of Huntingdon says,
By Rufus and Henry I., St. Thomas's Tower was built over the Traitor's Gate,--
In the reign of Henry I. we read of Ralph Flambard, Bishop of Durham, being imprisoned in the
|Tower, but a rope was sent to him, concealed in a cask of wine, and he escaped safely, being let down from the walls.|
King Stephen frequently resided in the Tower. The moat was made by Longchamp Bishop of Ely in when he was intrusted with its defence for Richard . against John. He
Of all English sovereigns the Tower was most enriched and adorned by Henry III., for he regarded it rather as a palace than a fortress. Griffin, Prince of Wales, was imprisoned here in and attempted to escape by a rope made of his bedclothes, but it broke, and he met with a frightful death in the moat. Under Edward I. the great prisoners taken in the Scottish wars were immured here. Baliol, after years, was released on the intercession of the Pope, but William Wallace and Sir Simon Fraser only left their prison to be executed with the most horrible brutality in Smithfield.
Edward II. frequently resided in the Tower, where his eldest daughter, thence called Jane of the Tower, was born. Under Edward III., John, King of France, and David Bruce, King of Scotland, were imprisoned here. In the reign of Richard II. the Tower was continually filled with prisoners who were victims of the jealousy of rival factions, the most illustrious being the young king's tutor, the excellent Sir Simon Burley, of whom Froissart says,
For this act, when his own friends
|obtained the chief power, King Richard caused his uncle the Duke of Gloucester to be put to death at Calais, and the Earl of Arundel lost his head on .|
During the rebellion of Wat Tyler, when the king, who had previously been fortified in the Tower, was induced to go forth to meet the insurgents, the rebels broke into the fortress and pillaged it, beheading Sudbury, Archbishop of Canterbury (who had abused them as
), Sir Robert Hales the treasurer, and others whom they found there. It was in the upper chamber of the White Tower that Richard II. abdicated in favour of his cousin Henry of Bolingbroke, and hence Henry IV. went to his coronation, a custom which was followed by all after sovereigns of England till James II. Henry, Earl of Huntingdon, the king's brother-in-law, was the of a long series of victims beheaded in the Tower in the reign of Henry IV., in which Prince James of Scotland, son of Robert III., was imprisoned there. Under Henry V. the prisons were filled with the captives of Agincourt, including Charles, Duke of Orleans,[n.371.1] and his brother John, Count of Angoulme. In this reign also the Tower became the prison of many of the reformers called Lollards, of whom the greatest was Lord Cobham, who was dragged by a chain from the Tower to be burnt in Fields.
In the reign of Henry VI. the fortress was occupied by the prisoners of the Wars of the Roses, and here in , King Henry VI. died mysteriously just after the Battle of Tewkesbury-according to Fabian and Hall, by the hand of the Duke of Gloucester, who
Queen Margaret was imprisoned here till . years afterwards George, Duke of Clarence, brother of Edward IV., was put to death in the Tower. With the death of Edward IV. the darkest page in the annals of the fortress is opened by the execution of Lord Hastings, soon to be followed by the alleged murder of the young King Edward V., and his brother Richard, Duke of York.
Hence Elizabeth of York went to her coronation as wife of Henry VII., and here she died after her confinement in . Her little daughter Katherine was the last princess born in the Tower. The most illustrious victim of this reign was Edward, Earl of Warwick, son of the murdered Duke of Clarence, and the last male Plantagenet, who was beheaded in , his only crime being his royal blood. In the same year Perkin Warbeck, the White Rose of England, who claimed to be the younger son of Edward IV., was imprisoned here before being taken to be hung at Tyburn.
The accession of Henry VIII. witnessed the imprisonment and execution of Empson and Dudley the taxgatherers of his father, and in that of Edward Bohun, Duke of Buckingham, whose chief fault was his descent from Thomas of Woodstock, youngest son of Edward III. The next great executions on were those of Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, and Sir Thomas More, who suffered for refusing to acknowledge the king's supremacy. These were soon followed by the private execution of Queen Anne Boleyn and her brother Lord Rochford, and by the death on of Henry Norris, William Brereton, Sir Francis Weston, and Mark Smeaton for her
|sake. The endless victims of the northern insurrections and of the dissolution of monasteries next succeeded to the prisons of the Tower, followed by those accused of treasonable correspondence with Cardinal Pole, including his venerable mother, Margaret, Countess of Salisbury, niece of the Kings Edward IV. and Richard III., who was brutally beheaded within the walls. In Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex, the chief promoter of the dissolution of monasteries, who had offended Henry VIII. by bringing about his marriage with Anne of Cleves, was imprisoned and brought to the block. His execution was soon followed by that of Queen Catherine Howard and her confidante Lady Rochford.|
In Anne Askew was racked in the Tower for the Protestant faith before her burning in Smithfield. And in the poet Earl of Surrey was executed on , the only ground for the accusation of high treason brought against him being that he quartered (as he had a right to do) the arms of Edward the Confessor, and that he was fond of conversing with foreigners. His father Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, only escaped being added to the victims of Henry VIII.'s jealousies by the tyrant's death.
In the reign of Edward VI., Thomas, Lord Seymour of Sudeley, his uncle, and the widower of his stepmother, Queen Katherine Parr, was beheaded on for government intrigues, and for having defrauded the mint to an amount of something like and having established cannon foundries where he had cannons ready for immediate service.
In the King's other uncle, the Duke of Somerset, Lord Protector, being most unjustly found guilty of felony, was beheaded amid the tears of the people. His execution was followed by those of his friends, Sir Thomas Arundel, Sir Michael Stanhope, Sir Ralph Vane, and Sir Miles Partridge.
The accession of Mary brought Lady Jane Grey and her husband Lord Guildford Dudley to the Tower and the scaffold, with her father-in-law John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, and his adherents Sir John Gates and Sir Thomas Palmer. The rebellion of Sir Thomas Wyatt, a principal cause in the execution of Lady Jane Grey, led to his being beheaded, to the execution of the Duke of Suffolk and Lord Thomas Grey, and to the imprisonment in the Tower of the Princess Elizabeth.
The accession of Elizabeth sent a number of Roman Catholic bishops and abbots to the Tower for refusing to acknowledge her supremacy. Lady Katherine Grey, sister of Lady Jane, was also kept in prison till her death in for the crime of a secret marriage with the Earl of Hertford. Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, son of the unfortunate Earl of Surrey, was imprisoned and executed in , for having aspired to the hand of Mary, Queen of Scots. In the latter part of the queen's reign numbers of Jesuit priests were committed to the Tower and executed, and Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, being imprisoned there,
|died by suicide. Sir John Perrot, a natural son of Henry VIII., unjustly imprisoned, died of a broken heart. Through the bitter jealousy of the reigning court favourites, Cecil and Raleigh, Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, was imprisoned and beheaded privately in the Tower in , his execution being followed by those of Sir Christopher Blunt, Sir Charles Danvers, Sir Gilley Merrick, and Henry Cuffe.|
Shortly after James I. came to the throne an alleged plot for the re-establishment of popery and raising of Lady Arabella Stuart to the throne led to that lady's imprisonment for life in the Tower (where she died insane) with Lord Thomas Grey and Lord Cobham, and to the execution of George Brook the brother of the latter. Sir Walter Raleigh, imprisoned at the same time (), was released in , but he was reimprisoned in to gratify the malice of Gondomar the Spanish ambassador, and (though he had been appointed admiral of the fleet with command of an expedition to Guiana, during his short interval of liberty) he was beheaded months afterwards on his old accusation.
In the dungeons of the Tower were filled with the conspirators of the Gunpowder Plot, who were all hung, cut down, and disembowelled while they were still living. In Sir Thomas Overbury was poisoned in the Tower by the Earl of Rochester and the Countess of Essex, who obtained a pardon by the favour of King James, though he had prayed that
In Sir John Eliot was committed to the Tower, where he wrote his and continued,
|though his lodging was times changed, till his death in .|
In Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Stafford, unjustly condemned for high treason against the will of his sovereign Charles I., was beheaded on , having been blessed from a window on his way to execution by Archbishop Laud, who was then himself a prisoner, having been impeached for Romish tendencies, and who was himself beheaded on . In the wars which followed, Sir John Hotham and his son, the Duke of Hamilton, the Earl of Holland and Lord Capel were imprisoned and suffered death for the cause of their king.
With the return of Charles II. came the imprisonment and death of many of the regicides, but the next important executions were those of Algernon Sidney and William Lord Russell; and that of the Duke of Monmouth, who was executed for high treason against his uncle James II. in . In the Archbishop of Canterbury and bishops were imprisoned in the Tower for a libel upon the king and his government. Executions were now rare, but numerous prisoners still filled the Tower. Among these in was Bishop Atterbury, whose imprisonment for Jacobitism is commemorated by Pope-
In Lord Derwentwater and Lord Kenmuir were beheaded on for their devotion to the Stuarts. The Earl of Nithsdale escaped in a cloak and hood provided by his heroic wife. Loyalty to the Stuarts likewise led in to the execution of Lords Kilmarnock,
|Balmerino, and Lovat, with Charles Ratcliffe, younger brother of Lord Derwentwater.|
The parts of the Tower generally exhibited to the public are the Armoury and the Jewel Tower. These, however, are the parts least worth seeing. To visit the rest of the Tower an order should be obtained from the Constable. Visitors are shown over the Tower by , as the Wardens of the Tower are called, who still wear the picturesque dress of the Yeomen of the Guard of Henry VIII. established in , a privilege which was obtained for them in perpetuity from Edward VI. by his uncle the Protector Somerset, who had noted their diligence in their office while he was a prisoner in the Tower. It has been well observed that the dress of the Beefeaters in the Tower shows, more than anything else in London, the reverence of England for her past. Their name is supposed to be derived from the fact that the commons of the early Yeomen of the Guard, when on duty, was beef-an the name was probably derisory, beef being then a cheap article of consumption, for when under Henry VIII. butchers were compelled by law to sell their mutton at farthings, beef was only a half-penny.
Before reaching the moat we pass by what is called
beneath the , where an ancient arch with a portcullis is now built into modernised bastions. This was the gate where Elizabeth, coming from Canonbury before her coronation, on entering the fortress which had been her prison, alighted from her palfrey, and falling upon her knees
Adjoining the Middle Gate was the , with a semicircular area, where the kings of England formerly kept their wild beasts. The of these were leopards presented to Henry III. by the Emperor Frederick, in allusion to the royal arms. A bear was soon added, for which the
|sheriffs of London were ordered to provide a muzzle and iron chain to secure him when out of the water, and a strong cord to hold him |
An elephant was procured in the same reign, and a lion in that of Edward II. The wild beasts at the Tower were the most popular sight of London in the last and the beginning of the present century,--
| says Addison in the |
In the royal menagerie was used as a foundation for the collection. To the right is a terrace along the bank of the Thames, where we should walk to admire the wide reach of the Thames, here called , crowded with shipping, so that seems to be walking through a gallery of beautiful Vanderveldes. The steps leading to the river are the Queen's Stairs (once much wider), where the sovereigns embarked for their coronations. The wharf from which we are gazing is the same which-twice destroyed and twice rebuilt during his reign-made Henry III. so excessively unpopular with the Londoners.
An arch beneath the terrace forms the approach to the , through which the water formerly reached to the stairs within the gloomy low-browed arch which we still
| see. Here it was that Anne Boleyn was landed, having been hurried hither without warning from a tournament at Greenwich, and fell upon her knees upon the steps, praying God to defend her, as she was innocent of the crime of which she was accused. Here, eighteen years after, her daughter Elizabeth stepped on shore, exclaiming, |
Fuller mentions the proverb,
In the room over the gate died the last Lord Grey of Wilton () after years of cruel imprisonment-on accusation of wishing to marry Lady Arabella Stuart without permission of James I.
Beyond the Traitor's Gate, guarding the outer ward towards the river, were the , the , and the . Near the last was the approach called the
Returning to the main entrance, we pass into the through the (so called from the password given on entering it), having on the left the Bell Tower, in which Bishop Fisher and Lady Arabella Stuart were confined. There is a similar
at Windsor, there almost the only remnant of the ancient castle.
We should examine the Traitor's Gate as we pass it. The walls, both at the sides and in front towards the river, are perforated with little passages, with loopholes from
|which the Lieutenant of the Tower could watch, unseen, the arrival of the prisoners. We may linger a moment at the top of its steps also, to recollect that it was here that as Sir Thomas More was being led back to prison, after his condemnation, with the fatal sign of the reversed axe carried before him, his devoted daughter Margaret, who had been watching unrecognised amid the crowd, burst through the|
| guards and flinging herself upon his neck, besought his blessing.
| Margaret was forced away from her father, but a time broke away and threw her arms round his neck, with such piteous cries of |
that the very guards were melted into tears, while he,
gave her his solemn blessing and besought her
Immediately opposite the Traitor's Gate, another ancient arch with a portcullis admits us to the . The old ring on the left of the arch is that to which the rope was fastened, stretched across the roadway, from the boat which brought in the prisoners. This is altogether the most picturesque point in the building. It is called the , from the belief that here the sons of Edward
| IV. were murdered by order of their uncle Richard III. There is not, however, any proof that, if the murder was committed, it occurred here, and the present name has only been given to the place since the reign of Elizabeth: it was previously called |
because it joined the constable's garden, which now forms part of the parade.
Though there is no proof that the princes were murdered here, a very old tradition points out the angle at the foot of the wall, outside the gate on the right, as the place of their hasty burial by their reputed assassins, Dighton and Forrest, before their removal by Richard III. to the foot of the staircase in the White Tower.
The gate looks the same now as it did when Sir Thomas Wyatt passed through it to his prison, when Sir John Bridges seized him and shook him by the collar, calling him names and saying--
It is from the little portico on the right within the Bloody Gate that nightly, at ii P.M., the sentry of the guard challenges the Chief Warder having the keys of the fortress --
Upon which the Warder exclaims,
The soldiers respond, the keys pass on, and the guard disperse.
Just within the gate, on the right, some steps lead into the , where the Regalia is now kept. This tower, which is said to derive its name from the prisoners kept here after the Battle of Wakefield, has a beautiful
|vaulted roof. Opening from the raised recess of the window on the south side is the oratory of Henry VI., which tradition points out as the scene of his murder. The centre of the chamber is occupied by a great glass-case containing , with the magnificent gold plate used at Coronation banquets. The collection of plate and jewels here|
| is valued at millions. The most important objects are-
The crown jewels have frequently been pledged by the English kings to Flemish and French merchants. A determined attempt to carry them off was made by an Irishman named Thomas Blood in the reign of Charles II. He was a desperate ruffian, who, amongst other wild deeds, had carried off the Duke of Ormond and very nearly succeeded in hanging him at Tyburn to avenge the deaths of some of his associates in a Dublin insurrection, when the Duke was Lord Lieutenant. On the present occasion he came
| with his supposed wife to see the Regalia, and while there the woman pretended to be taken ill, and her being conveyed into the rooms of Talbot Edwards, the Deputy-keeper, then years old, was made the pretext for an acquaintance, which ended in a proposition on the part of Blood to bring about a marriage between his son and the daughter of Edwards. Some days after he returned with the imaginary bridegroom and other companions, and, while waiting for the lady, begged to show them the crown jewels. Edwards complied, and, as soon as the door, according to custom, was locked on the inside, they gagged the old man, beat him till he was half senseless, and began to pack up the regalia. Fortunately young Edwards returned from Flanders at that moment and arrived to see his father. The old keeper, hearing him, contrived to cry out |
and the conspirators made off, Blood carrying the crown, and of his companions, Perrot, the orb. They were pursued and seized. The most extraordinary part of the story is, that backed by the reminiscence of his attack on the Duke of Ormond, Blood so contrived to terrify the king by his account of the vengeance which his friends would take in case of his execution, that he was not only released, but allowed a pension of a year! while poor old Edwards, promised a pension which was never paid, was allowed to die almost in destitution.
Before the Regalia were removed hither, the Wakefield Tower was used as a Record office. It was here that Selden, with Sir Robert Cotton, searched for the precedents upon which the Petition of Rights was founded. Here also Prynne forgot the loss of his ears in compiling materials for his books, for when some asked Charles II. at
| the Restoration what should be done to keep Prynne quiet, he said, |
of which he forthwith gave him the custody, with a salary of a year.
The centre of the Inner Ward is occupied by the mighty , an immense quadrangular building with corner turrets, and pierced with Norman arches and windows. Below it, on the south, under an open roof, are preserved several curious specimens of early guns, chiefly of the time of Henry VIII., the earliest dating from Henry VI. The most interesting pieces are
of Henry VIII. and a gun inscribed
At the south-west angle is the entrance of the , through which visitors are usually hurried full speed by the warders. The gallery is decorated, fantastically and rather absurdly, with weapons. In the centre are equestrian figures in suits of armour, illustrating the different reigns from Edward I. to James II. The suits of armour are all ascribed to different kings or knights, but for the most part without authority.
The collection is a fine , but not to be compared to those of Madrid and Vienna, or even to that of Turin.
| Suits which really belonged to those to whom they are assigned, and which therefore especially require notice, are-
A staircase leads (passing through some imitation pillars and a Norman doorway formed out of a window) to Queen Elizabeth's armoury. Here also the old Norman walls are everywhere spoilt by deal panelling and a ridiculous decoration of pistols, sabres, &c., arranged in the forms of feathers or flowers. At the foot of the stairs is a curious suit of armour sent to Charles II. by the Great Mogul.
On the left of is a dark cell falsely called the prison of Sir Walter Raleigh. At the entrance are inscriptions left by prisoners after Sir Thomas Wyatt's rebellion-
The Armoury is closed by a ludicrous figure of Elizabeth on horseback, as she is supposed to have appeared at Tilbury Fort. The objects especially to be observed here are-
The Instruments of Torture-thumbscrews; bilboes; the torture-cravat called
after its inventor; and a Spanish collar of torture taken in the Armada.
The Axe which is said to have beheaded the Earl of Essex.
The Block used at (and made for) the executions of Balmerino, Kilmarnock, and Lovat.
Returning to the outside of the Tower, we find a staircase. On its landing (as an inscription tells) some
| bones were found in the reign of Charles II., and were buried in as those of the princes, sons of Edward IV. Edward V. was at the time of his death, his brother Richard . Their murder has never been proved and is still of the mysteries of history: Heywood, by his play of Edward IV., has assisted the belief in it. He thus describes their arrival here with their uncle Gloster.
Heywood thus pourtrays the night before the murder:
Hence a winding stair leads to (of ), the most perfect Norman chapel in England, encircled by heavy circular pillars with square cornices and bases, and a very wide triforium over the aisles. The stilted horseshoe arches of the apse resemble on a small scale those of St. Bartholomew the Great. is modern but admirably adapted to the place. Here, while he was kneeling in prayer, Brackenbury, the Lieutenant of the Tower, received an order to murder the young Edward V. and his brother, and refused to obey it; here Mary attended a mass for her brother Edward VI. at the time of his funeral; and here the Duke of Northumberland, father-in-law of Lady Jane Grey, heard mass and publicly
before his execution.
It is on this floor of the White Tower that Flambard, Bishop of Durham, Griffin, Prince of Wales, John Baliol, and the Duke of Orleans were confined. Baliol especially lived here in great state, with an immense household.
Adjoining the chapel was the ancient , now filled with weapons. The upper floor, also now divided as an armoury, was the in which Richard II. abdicated in favour of Henry IV.
Shakspeare has introduced the speech of King Richard-
Here also occurred that stranger scene in , when the Protector (afterwards Richard III.), coming in amongst the
| lords in council, asked the Bishop of Ely to send for some strawberries from his famous garden in . It is irresistible to quote Sir Thomas More's graphic account of what followed.
Having looked out of the window whence Richard beheld the execution on Tower Green, we may enter the broad triforium of Chapel, whence there was a communication with the royal apartments.
There is a glorious view from the leads on the summit of the White Tower. Greenwich is visible on a fine day. The turrets are restorations. In that by which we enter (N.E.) King John imprisoned the beautiful Maud, daughter of Robert Fitzwalter of Baynard's Castle.
The vaults of the White Tower were used as prisons, though there is, no authority for the statement of the Warders that Bishop Fisher and Sir Thomas More were imprisoned there. As we descend, we may see the remains
| of the old staircase on the right: a sword shown as Smith O«Brien's is kept there. The holes in which the rack was fixed upon which Anne Askew was tortured are still to be seen in the floor of the vault. Burnet narrates that the Lord Chancellor Wriothesley, throwing off his coat, himself drew it so severely that he almost tore her body asunder. In the prison called Guy Fawkes was imprisoned, with his companions, and here he was racked, and confessed after minutes of torture. On a wall in of the vaults is the inscription, |
--probably by a Jesuit priest involved in the conspiracy.
The Armouries and the Regalia are the sights usually shown to strangers. Those really interested in the Tower will obtain leave to make the circuit of the smaller towers, of which there were encircling the Inner Ward. Returning to the Bloody Gate, and ascending the steps on the right they will be shown the rooms over the gateway which are full of curious or great reminiscences.
On the wall of a small chamber (left) on the floor is an inscription by the Bishop of Ross, so long an active partisan of Mary, Queen of Scots, who, while here, confessed the Norfolk and Northumberland plots in her favour, and declared her privy to the death of Darnley: only the name is now legible, the rest of the inscription having been chipped by axes in the time of the Commonwealth. Another room on this floor is that whither Felton, the murderer of Buckingham, was brought to prison, blessed by the people on his way. Here also Colonel Hutchinson was imprisoned after the Restoration-
says Mrs. Hutchinson,
The same prison was afterwards occupied by a very different character, James II.'s Judge Jeffreys, who was taken at in the dress of a sailor by a man he had injured, and who died here of drinking, having, during his imprisonment, been insulted by receiving a present of a barrel, apparently containing Colchester oysters, but really a halter.
On the upper floor is the room where the supposed murder of the Princes took place. Its window opens upon a narrow passage by which the assassins are said to have entered from the outside walk upon the walls. The rooms have been subdivided in late times. In of them Margaret Cheyne was imprisoned, the wild woman who excited the pilgrim-invasion of Yorkshire in the reign of Henry VIII., its object being to overthrow the power of Cromwell and restore Catherine of Arragon. Here Dudley, Earl of Northumberland, father-in-law of Lady Jane Grey, was imprisoned, and hence he was led to the scaffold. Here was the prison of Archbishop Cranmer. Henry, Earl of Northumberland, imprisoned for exciting a Catholic crusade against Elizabeth, shot himself here, , to avoid the confiscation of his estates. In the same room Sir Thomas Overbury, in the reign of James I., underwent slow agonies of poisoning at the hands of the Earl and Countess of Somerset and their minions. Here also Sir Walter Raleigh lived through his and longest imprisonment of years, being accused of a plot in favour of Lady Arabella Stuart. His imprisonment was not rendered unnecessarily severe, and his wife and son
| were allowed to live near him in the Tower. In the still existing room he wrote his and burnt its volume as a sacrifice to Truth on being convinced that a murder, which he fancied that he had seen from his prison window, was only an optical delusion.[n.398.1] Here he received the visits of Ben Jonson and other clever men of the time, and of Prince Henry, who said, |
In the adjoining garden he used to work, to cultivate rare plants, and distil curious essences from them. The narrow walk upon the wall, connected with these apartments, is still called
We should next visit the , where Mrs. Hutchinson was born, being the daughter of Sir Allan Apsley, Lieutenant of the Tower. On the ground floor we may see the curious of the Chief Warder, which was carried before the Lieutenant when he accompanied prisoners to the . As they returned, the axe was carried before the prisoner. If the trial was not finished the face of the axe was away from him; if he was condemned it was turned towards him: thus those watching through the loopholes of the Traitor's Gate knew his fate at once.
To the south room on the upper floor Guy Fawkes and his friends were brought for examination before Cecil, Nottingham, Mountjoy, and Northampton. Cecil wrote of Guy Fawkes,
There is a fine bust in wood of James I. over the chimney-piece, and the names of the conspirators are given on of a set of
| tablets on the left, which contain curious Latin inscriptions put up by Sir William Waad, Lieutenant of the Tower, to flatter the vainglorious James I., from some of which the following are translated:--
This is the room where Pepys (-)
James, Duke of Monmouth, taken as a fugitive from Sedgemoor, was imprisoned in the Lieutenant's lodgings () till his execution.
We now reach the , so called from being surmounted by a wooden turret, containing the alarm bell of the garrison. At the entrance of the upper room from the walk upon the wall is the inscription-
The curious vaulted chamber of the Bell Tower is that where John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, was imprisoned in his eightieth year. He was condemned for treason because he believed in the prophecies of the Maid of Kent, who said that a judgment would follow Henry VIII.'s divorce of Katherine of Aragon.
From the Bell Tower he wrote piteously to Cromwell,
While Fisher was in prison the Pope, to comfort him, sent him a cardinal's hat.
said the king,
and his death-warrant was signed, so that
[n.400.1] The old man put on his best suit for what he called his marriage day, and went forth gladly to the scaffold, with his New
| Testament in his hand. It opened at the passage, |
The Bell Tower is said to have been also the prison of the Princess Elizabeth, but it is more probable that she was confined in the royal apartments. It is certain that after a month's strict confinement she was allowed to walk in the Queen's Garden. Arabella Stuart, however, who had married Sir William Seymour,
[n.401.1] certainly languished here for years after her capture in Calais roads while attempting to escape with her husband to France.
Adjoining the Bell Tower is a room with an ancient chimney-piece inscribed-
This is a memorial of Margaret, Countess of Lennox, cousin of Queen Elizabeth, being the daughter of Margaret, Queen of Scotland, by her marriage with the Earl of Angus. She was imprisoned on the marriage, and released on the murder, of Darnley. She died in great poverty (leaving grandchildren, James IV., son of Henry, and Arabella, daughter of Charles Stuart), and was buried in state at at the expense of Elizabeth.
In the centre of the west side of the court is the , which probably derived its name from Thomas de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, having been imprisoned there by Richard II. before his removal to the Isle of Man, in . The room on the upper story of this tower is of the most interesting in the fortress. It is surrounded by a number of arched embrasures, and the walls are half covered with inscriptions from the hands of its prisoners, which will be found of the greatest interest by those who see them on the spot, though a description of them here is dull reading. We may notice-
are, amongst many other inscriptions, under the name Thomas Rooper, , the figure of a skeleton, and the words,
Near this is
Doubtless inscribed by that descendant of George, Duke of Clarence, who was imprisoned in the Tower for life, and on whose evidence his own brother, Lord Montague, with the Marquis of Exeter and others, were beheaded.
Near this is the word JANE, supposed to refer to Lady Jane Grey and to have been cut by her husband, Lord Guildford Dudley, imprisoned here with his brothers.
Near this also is
which is several times repeated in the room, commemorating of the great-grandsons of George, Duke of Clarence, imprisoned here for life on accusation of wishing to supplant the Protestant religion and make Mary of Scotland queen of England. His brother Arthur Pole has left his inscriptions--
with the name
underneath and the prostrate figure of a man. This is especially curious as probably having been the work of Peter Burchet of the Middle Temple, who being imprisoned here for wounding Sir John Hawkins, murdered (to
his punishment?) his fellow-prisoner Hugh Longworth, as he was reading his Bible in this window. Burchet was hung by , Nov. II, .
commemorates the eldest son of Gerald Fitzgerald, Earl
|of Kildare, imprisoned for a rebellion in Ireland, and hung and quartered at Tyburn, with his uncles, .|
. Under the word
is a great A upon a bell, being the rebus of Dr. Thomas Abel, domestic chaplain to Queen Catherine of Arragon, imprisoned and executed for his fidelity to the cause of his mistress.
Near this is
the signature of Laurence Cook, Prior of Doncaster, hung for denying the king's supremacy, and
commemorating the youngest son of Lord Cobham, who was condemned for Sir Thomas Wyatt's insurrection.
The last inscription we need notice is a carving of an oak-tree with acorns and the initials
beneath, the work of Robert Dudley, afterwards Queen Elizabeth's Earl of Leicester, who, being already married to Amy Robsart, was imprisoned with his father and brothers for the affair of Lady Jane Grey.
An illustrious prisoner of the Beauchamp Tower, who has left no memorials, is Sir John Oldcastle, Lord Cobham, who was sentenced to be burnt to death for the doctrines of Wickliffe. The people broke into the Tower and rescued him, and he remained under their protection in safety for months. After this, being forced to fly, he wandered for years through England and Wales, with set upon his head. At length he was betrayed by a Welsh follower, brought to London, and burnt before his own house in Smithfield.
On the wall at the top of this tower was the touching -
Buried, , by a fellow-prisoner in the .
Almost opposite the Beauchamp Tower is
(now a gravelled space, where it is said that grass has never consented to grow since the executions) whither Hastings () was brought hastily from the council chamber in the White Tower, and where,
A stone here marks the spot on which several of the most illustrious of the Tower-victims have suffered death, the greater part of the prisoners having been executed on . Here the beautiful Anne Boleyn walked to her death in the calm of innocence, comforting her attendants, and praying with her last breath for her brutal husband. Here the aged Countess of Salisbury, the last lineal descendant of the Plantagenets, refused to lay her head upon the block, and rushed round and round the platform, her white hair streaming on the wind, till she was hewn down by the executioner. Here a letter from an eye-witness describes the death of Queen Catherine Howard (who had been a wife only year months and days) and Lady Rochford as
Hither Lady Jane Grey,
came to her death
attended by her faithful women, Mistress Tylney and Mistress Ellen.
The , at the north-east angle, was the prison for years of the Earl of Northumberland in the reign of James I. He was allowed to walk on the terrace between this and the Constable Tower, and to pursue his mathematical studies, under the guidance of Hariot, the astronomer. A sundial, still existing on the south face of the tower, was put up by the earl, and is the work of Hariot. Northumberland was eventually released on the intercession of his beautiful daughter, Lucy Hay, Countess of Carlisle. It was here also that the Bishops were imprisoned. As the
this was the scene of Blood's conspiracy. This tower also was the scene of the well-known but disconnected Mr. Edward Lent.
| hall Swift, Keeper of the Crown Jewels, stated that on a Saturday night in , he was at supper with his wife, her sister, and his little boy, in the sitting-room of the jewel-house. The room had doors and windows: between the windows a chimney-piece projected far into the room. On that evening the doors were closed, the windows curtained, and the only light was given by the candles on the table. Mr. Swift sate at the foot of the table, with his boy on his right, his wife facing the chimney, and her sister opposite. Suddenly the lady exclaimed, |
Mr. Swift then saw a cylindrical figure, like a glass tube, seemingly about the thickness of his arm, hovering between the ceiling and the table. Its contents appeared to be a dense fluid, white and pale azure, incessantly rolling within the cylinder. This lasted minutes, after which the appearance began to move round the table. Mr. Swift saw it pass behind his wife, who shrieked in an agony of terror,
Neither the sister nor the boy saw anything. Soon afterwards the sentry at the jewel-house was terrified by
fell down in a fit, and died or days after.[n.414.1]
At the foot of this tower is preserved the sculpture of the royal arms, by , which was the principal ornament on the front of the Great Storehouse, burnt .
On the east wall (modernised) are the , and the , which was used as a prison for Roman Catholic priests in the reign of Elizabeth.
At the south-east angle is the picturesque , with some good gothic windows. The ground floor is a vaulted chamber, with deep recesses. The upper floor, used as a prison, has some curious sculptures, a sphere with the signs of the zodiac, the work of a man imprisoned on accusation of sorcery, with the inscription,
In another part of the room is a globe, probably by the same person. The name
is that of imprisoned for conspiring against the life of Elizabeth.
The Royal of the Tower occupied the ground between the Salt Tower and the Lanthorn Tower, of the most ancient parts of the fortress, destroyed in . Its site is now occupied by the hideous The Tower ceased to be used as a palace after the accession of Elizabeth, to whom it recalled the personal associations of a prison.
Returning through the Outer Ward, by the remains (left) of the , we have of the most charming views in the fortress, where some trees overshadow the archway, which crosess the ward close to the Wakefield Tower.
A visit to the Tower may be well followed by to the , in the , the long street which runs north from to , for here, in a tin box, is preserved the most ghastly relic connected with the Tower. It is the still perfect , father of Lady Jane Grey, which was found preserved in tannin in a small vault on the south of the altar, and which, in its aquiline nose and arched eyebrows,
| corresponds with the portrait engraved by Lodge from a portrait at Hatfield, of which there is a duplicate in the National Portrait Gallery. The features are perfect, but the hair is gone, the skin has become a bright yellow, the cheeks and eyelids are like leather, the teeth rattle in the jaws. The neck shows the false blow of the executioner, which failed to extinguish life, and the fatal blow which cut through veins and cartilage, severing the head from the body. The church contains several curious monuments, including that of William Legge, who attended Charles I. upon the scaffold, and bore thence his message to the Prince of Wales |
In the same grave rests his son George, Baron Dartmouth, Counsellor to Charles II. and James II., and Master of the Horse to James II. He was appointed Admiral of the fleet intended to intercept the landing of the Prince of Orange, and, failing, was sent, after the revolution, to the Tower, where he died in . His son, William, Earl of Dartmouth, is also buried here. The monument erected by Lady Pelham, daughter of a St. John of Bletsoe, to her husband and son has the epitaph-
Here Sir Philip Sidney, who received his death-wound at Zutphen, lay in state before his national funeral in .
This dismal little church is the only memorial of the convent founded for Minorites,
who gave a name to the street, by Blanche, Queen of Navarre, wife of Edmond Plantagenet, Earl of Lancaster, son of Henry III. It was probably on account of this foundation by his sister-in-law, that Edward I. deposited here the heart of his mother, the unpopular Eleanor of Provence, who died in the nunnery of Ambresbury in . The Minorite Convent was granted to the Duke of Suffolk by Edward VI., in . The Convent-farm was leased to Goodman, from whom
take their names.
It was in the that Lord Cobham died, at the house of his laundress,
[n.417.1] The street was formerly famous for its gunsmiths-
On , facing a garden on the north of the Tower, is the , built by Samuel Wyatt for the company
|founded by Sir Thomas Spert, Comptroller of the Navy to Henry VIII., for the encouragement of navigation, the regulation of lighthouses, the providing of efficient pilots, and the general control of naval matters not directly under the Admiralty.|
A little farther east is the , built by Johnson and Sir R. Smirke. Here the gold and silver of the realm are melted and coined. Sir Isaac Newton and Sir John Herschel were Masters of the Mint, an office abolished in .
The streets east of the Tower are the Sailors' Town. The shops are devoted to the sale of sailors' clothing, nautical instruments, and naval stores; the population is made up of sailors, shipbuilders, and fishermen.
The connected with the Thames occupy a space of acres. The principal Docks are , opened ; the , opened ; the , opened ; the , opened ; the , opened ; and the , opened .
Near St. Katherine's, a place which latterly bore the strangely corrupted name of Hangman's Gains, long marked the street which was the asylum of the refugees from Hammes et Guynes, near Calais, after that town was recaptured from the English I Below the is , where Lord Chancellor Jeffreys, attempting to escape after the abdication of James II., was taken while he was drinking at the Red Cow, in Hope and Anchor Alley, King Edward's Stairs; he was identified by a scrivener of , whom
|he had insulted from the bench, and who recognised the terrible face as he was lolling out of a window, in the dress of a common sailor, and in fancied security. is the place where pirates were hung in chains. Beyond are the miserable thickly inhabited districts of and|
At is the entrance of the , formed -, by Sir Isambard K. Brunel, at an expense of . This long useless passage under the river, to , was sold to the East London Railway Company in , and is now a railway tunnel.
A number of taverns with riverside landing-places retain their quaint original names, but they are little worth visiting. The
in has some remains () of an old brick front towards the street, and the view from its river balcony, with the ancient boat-building yards, and timbers green with salt weeds in the foreground, has often been painted.
The main thoroughfare of this part of London, which will always be known by its old name of , though it has been foolishly changed to Street, obtained unpleasant notoriety from the murders of the Marr family and the Williamsons in ZZZ I, after which, as Macaulay says,
But those who visit it now will find Ratcliffe Highway a cheerful airy street, without any especial evidence of poverty or crime. No. is the famous
called Jamrach's, an extraordinary place, where almost any animal may be purchased, from an elephant to a mouse.
[n.367.2] For further details as to this church, consult Collections in Illustration of the Parochial Hist. of Allhallows, Barking, by Joseph Maskell.
[n.371.1] The father (by his third wife) of Louis XII. He had previously married Isabella of Valois, widow of Richard II. of England.
[n.378.1] See Burnet's History of the Reformation.
[n.398.1] D«Israeli, Curiosities of Literature.
[n.414.1] See Timbs's Romance of London, vol. ii. The other ghostly appearance in the Tower, the axe, which appears in the shadow of moonlight on the walls of the White Tower, has had many advocates
[n.417.1] Works of Francis Osborn, ed. 1700, p. 381.